When I think of mirchi/chili the first place that comes to mind is mesmerizing dessert of Rajasthan. World over chilly is consumed largely in Mexico, India, Central China, Korea, Spain, Portugal, Thailand and some parts of South America.
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We Indians love chilies- both green and red. In Kashmir, Kashmiri mirch is added to food to lend aroma and color cut not too much spice. In Gujarat & Rajasthan a pungent variant of red chili is used in curries and vegetables. It is sure to make you sweat. But a lesser known variant is called Dhani grown in Mizoram. This bird eye chili will make an adult ‘Macho’ man cry. No wonder one of the world’s spiciest pepper is grown in India (in an Eastern region, that too). But it’s not dhani but a deadlier, spicier variety of red chili called ‘Bhut Jolokia’. It is cultivated in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland & Manipur. This Ghost Pepper or ‘Bhut Jolokia’ comes in a variety of colors ranging from red, yellow, green, chocolate, purple and peach. The climatic changes & heat also has an effect on the pungency of these chilies. You’re sure to breathe fire after eating one of these satanic chilies. Don’t even begin to think about what will happen the next morning on the toilet seat……..On a recent trip to Mcleod Ganj we got a jar of ‘Bhut Jolokias’under the name of Sikkim Gold. They are sure to put your palate on fire.
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For a Chili Addict the above warnings don’t matter. How to spot a Chili Addict? He/She is the one in your group telling the golgape wala, ‘Bhaiya meethi chutney nahi dalna. Pani thoda aur teekha hona chahiye’ or asking the poor guy with a momo steamer ‘yeh mirchi ki sauce thodi aur milegi?’
When the rest of us are sweating just looking at Tabasco, this person relishes it and drinks it up like Cola. No kidding!! If your mouth is watering after reading this far, then you my friend are a true Chili Addict.
Word of caution: Just watch for those mouth/stomach ulcers. Go easy on the chili.
In contrast to dried red fire-starters the green chilies are milder. They usually don’t cause the above mentioned ulcers and not as over-powering as the red ones.
Jalapeno is another chili that is rapidly gaining popularity in India. Used in spices & pickles this stout green chili variant comes from Mexico. It is added to popular dishes like Salsa, Quesadilla and Tamale. It is milder and adds a punch of flavor to any dish.
Thais are crazy about their Green Curry. Made with green chili & cilantro paste this Thai Green Curry is wonderful dish combining sweet as well savory flavors.
All these fascinating dishes would not be possible without Columbus. He not only mistook America for India but also got confused between Red chili & black pepper. So confusion on his part led to two great discoveries – America and Red Chili. In India it was introduced by another explorer, Vasco de Gama. In early 20th century, a pharmacist came up with a scale to measure the hotness of different varieties of chilies. This scale is called Scoville Scale named after Wilbur Lincoln Scoville.
But mirchi lovers are least interested in these details. Just let them enjoy their Bhut Jolokias in peace! Their debate is about dishes like Lal Maas, Pork Vindaloo, Phaal Curry, Chicken Chettinad or Kozhi Curry. These dishes are not for the faint hearted. So stay away if you can’t even handle the hari mirch served with dhoklas.
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